After strong criticism, govt asks Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to lower price of COVID-19 vaccines
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NEW DELHI: Strong criticism of different prices for the same vaccines produced by the same two manufacturers led the Centre on Monday to ask them to reduce their prices. The development has come just five days ahead of the mass vaccination drive covering all adults who are 18 or 18+.

There is, however, no certainty that the manufacturers will agree to sell Covishield and Covaxin vaccines to the states and the private hospitals at Rs 150 per dose, the rate fixed for supplies to the Centre, as both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech claim their production cost is much higher at Rs 200 per dose.

{SII is under contract to supply its Covishield doses at Rs 200 to the Centre, as has been done since the start of the vaccination drive in the country from January 16.}

The state governments are exerting pressure on the Centre that they too should get the vaccines at the same rate at which the Centre is procuring the stocks. Pune-based SII has fixed Covishield price for the state governments at Rs 400 per dose and for the private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, however, waited for SII to lay its cards n the tabe and then pegged As things are, there is still no clarity on what price an individual will have to pay for the vaccination. The private hospitals have joined hands to place their orders on the two producers through an agency, but asked it to hold back until there is a clarity on what price they should offer.

Earlier, the private hospitals were charging Rs 50 per dose over and above the price of Rs 200 at which they were getting the supplies from the Centre to cover their storage and service charges. They say they may have to now place orders only for Covishield, as there would be no takers if the Covaxin costs double the price.

Both the state governments and the private hospitals' forum has approached the Centre to supply the vaccines from its quota at least for the month of May to ensure continuity in the vaccination drive until they start getting supplies from some other manufacturers, both Indian and foreign.

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